Jim and Sally Hohnberger of Empowered Living shared the following in their email blast from today. And I found it to be profound enough to repost it in its entirety. It reads as follows:
The purpose of religion is to free you. But when "a religion" ceases to free you, you may need freedom from that religion. Certainly the purpose of religion is to bring order out of your chaos. The very nature of religion was designed by God to bring harmony into one's life out of a confusing puzzle of self, worldliness and evil temptations.
The word "religion," for example, literally means, "to sew together," as a seamstress might sew together a quilt. It means, "to bind together" as a bookbinder might assemble the various pages of a novel.
While the purpose of religion is to help people put life together in Christ, the unfortunate consequence is that many religions seem only to succeed in tearing people apart, emotionally and spiritually. Has this happened to you? When it does, life tends to unravel all the more because self and church affiliation is powerless to accomplish all that religion calls for. That's when freedom from religion is needed.
Apparently, many people are realizing this because, according to the Pew Research Center, a higher and higher percentage are becoming religiously unaffiliated today. We are truly living in a religious revolution. Instead of people turning to organized religion, they are turning away and seeking freedom from it.
Please consider this "Top 10" list of reasons why people are seeking freedom from typical religion.
- People leave religion when they don't find Jesus.
- People leave religion because they feel lonely.
- People leave their religion because they're looking for something authentic.
- People leave religion because they are tired of being smeared and unloved.
- People leave their religion because it doesn't change them, their character, their family or bring the peace they crave.
- People leave their religion because social climbing, cliques, and nepotism turn them off.
- People leave religion because of controlling leaders and unskilled teachers.
- People leave their religion because of unresolved conflict.
- People leave religion because they need less drama and stress in their lives.
- People leave their religion when they can't find community.
How about you? I know I have experienced all 10 and could add a couple more such as rejection and spiritual abuse. When religion gets away from its real purpose ..."To heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed," it will take over your life. When and if that occurs, and you feel there's nothing you can do to change it, that's when you need freedom from religion, just as Jesus Christ did! He centered Himself in His Father where life comes from.
Know this, you are not alone. In an article by Adventist researcher Monte Sahin on church retention, he states that, "For every 100 people the Adventist church gains, it loses 43 previous members." Did you catch that shocking statistic? Shouldn't we be asking ourselves, "Is there something wrong with us? Or even with our message that is causing thinking people to withdraw their spiritual and emotional engagement and loyalty?"
Jesus found freedom from His religion in God and God alone. What a sad commentary on the condition of His church and the commentary is repeating itself again and again. In my life, I'm finding the Divine connection not in the church, but in my daily surrender and dependence in the only Power that is sufficient to free us and that Power is Jesus Christ. What I thought the church would do for me, I'm finding I have to do for myself. Now I find myself going to the church to be a missionary to help those that are confused with religion versus a vibrant, living connection with Jesus Christ.
The psalmist says it this way, "It is better to trust in the Lord
than to put confidence in man," Psalms 118:8 God is the only One who can truly satisfy your hearts desire for wholeness. When you feel disconnected from your church, what you're really sensing is your souls longing to be one with Him. And He alone knows how to bring that profound intimacy about in your life. Each of us must turn to Him for our only safety and security is in Jesus Christ.
Once you recognize this and turn to Jesus Christ to satisfy your loneliness He will provide everything you need to live a peaceful, joyful, fulfilling life. So stop looking to religion and look to Him first and foremost to satisfy the needs of your heart and the empowerment to be like Him.
"Father, please forgive us for looking to religious organizations to fulfill our needs. May we refocus our hearts on Your wonderful presence and provision for each and every one of us, amen!"
Refocused on Him,
Jim & Sally